Feature: Tore our clothes, thrashed our father: Depositions from Khargone

Alfiya Khan and Meer Faisal

In Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone, anti-Muslim violence that emanated from Ram Navami processions on 10 April left a trail of destruction for the Muslim community.

One such distressed Muslim shared his trauma with Maktoob.

Mohammad Nadeem Shaikh, a 36-year-old resident of Gulshan Nagar, was sleeping in his residential house with his family when he heard his house being demolished. In the presence of many police officials and other functionaries, his house was being razed to the ground by a JCB.

“Although we were extremely terrified, we dared to open the door to interrogate but the officers dragged me and my three brothers out of our home and started beating us ruthlessly. It was around 50 officers assaulting and streeling us around” said Nadeem, tearing up.

“Sab bhaiyo ko 50-50 dande maare, hamare ang ke kapde tak phaad diye. Hamare buzurg papa ko bhi maara. Ham itne sehme hai ki aj 8 din ho gaye lekin ham ghar se nahi nikal paye“

(All the brothers were struck around 50 times. They even tore our clothes and thrashed our elderly father. We are so terrified that it has been 8 days but we haven’t been able to get out of our home.)

His brother revealed his bruised thighs. Nadeem protested that they were innocent and did not have anything to do with the violence that broke out several kilometres away from their home and undeserving of the attack.

He mentioned that since there were no rallies taken out in his area and consequently no violence broke out, this unwarranted and obscure attack left them unbalanced and stunned.

Several Muslim owned buildings were razed down by authorities in Khargone, saying it’s an “anti-encroachment drive”. State authorities showed that 45 “illegal” structures were demolished.

The night before the attack, they thought their area was safe and hence they went about their businesses with ease, without giving much thought to the violence near them.

When asked if he has filed an FIR, he said, “I’m petrified, I don’t have it in me to even leave the house. It’s just today that I got some courage to move but I’m still terror-stricken. That day my kids were crying right there in front of my eyes but I wasn’t able to go to them, to calm them.”

Nadeem is confused as to why was this done to him and his family. He kept repeating that his family was innocent and they did not do anything to be given- as he called it- this punishment.

He further told that they didn’t receive any notice for their demolished building, even after 8 days. He told the reporter that it was not just their home but also their adjoined offices that were razed and there was a loss worth 6-8 lakhs, including the office and its paraphernalia.

Mohammad Nadeem, a member of the family of 17, claimed that they have been residing in Gulshan Nagar since 2009. He gave details about his destroyed building and claimed to have all the legal documents for it.

Nadeem said, “I have reports, registry and permission records from Nagar Palika for this building. I got town planning done here. I have documents that only 10% people in Khargone would possess. I’m confused, why have I still not received any notice for the demolition? What is our fault? At least tell us our fault and we’ll accept it.

We have been suffering patiently for the past 8 days, we are all graduates, we would have dismantled the case legally had they notified us about it prior to the demolition. We’re not the ones at fault. I just want justice for me and my family.”

Recalling the horror of that day, he told Maktoob that the kids of the family, who were present there when the attack happened, are too scared to come back home and some of their family members, including the women, had to leave the house and have been living at their relatives’ places since that day.

 ‘Fake allegations and propaganda’

Nadeem told Maktoob that his family’s name has been circulating on news channels with blatant propaganda. He showed a clip from News18 India where the journalist- in a distasteful attempt to promote islamophobia and violence- falsely accused his father Rafeeq, an elderly man, of stone pelting at the Ram Navami procession.

“There were no processions taken out here or anywhere near my house. Even if that were the case, my father wouldn’t be able to pelt stones because he can barely walk without any support. He is a 75-year-old man who needs assistance to even move. Why are they lying? It’s all lies,” complains an upset Nadeem.

“Wo sab hamko kuch nahi maloom ham in sab cheezo se bohot dur hai, ham kisi … pe koi ilzaam nahi lagana chahte bas koi hame hamari fault bata de ham use accept kar lenge“

(We don’t know anything about that, we stay away from these issues. We don’t want to blame anyone for anything, we just want someone to tell us our fault and we’re ready to accept it.)

Mohammad Nadeem Shaikh and his family are disorientated and helpless. They don’t know how to rebuild their lives.

“Neither have we been to any police station or court nor do we know anything about the procedures, we don’t know where and how to file a report.”

They’re scared and apprehensive about taking any steps.

While Nadeem was being interviewed, there was an announcement being made in his residential area that warned people to not post anything ‘instigative’ and that which will apparently spread rumours lest they be dealt with “strict action.” Courtesy Maktoob Media